Sheila Sybrant

My mother thought that something was wrong with me. When I was in kindergarten or first grade, she took me to the doctor.

The problem? I wasn’t doing well in school. I wasn’t failing by any means, but I wasn’t excelling, either. The doctor told my mother that there was nothing wrong with me; I was just young and wasn’t ready to sit still in a class and learn.

Eventually, I did well in school.

For all I know, though, my mother never stopped worrying that something is wrong with me. And, in all honesty, something IS wrong with me — at least in terms of listening to a radio. I’m still not ready to sit still in front of a radio and learn.

I don’t listen to the radio very often. Generally, I only listen to it when I’m driving, and that certainly hasn’t happened often lately. So, I don’t really think much about radio information and what I manage to take in.

But the other day my son, Nolan, was at our house, and we were having our usual news-exchange “game.” Essentially, we “compete” to see who can find the most interesting, quirky item in the news to talk about at lunch. It’s kind of a good-natured one-upmanship in the search for conversation starters.

Anyway, he had heard a compelling story on the radio, which he shared, but he could only remember the “what,” not the “where” and “when.”

Of course, the “what” was the most interesting, but it was missing something without the “where” and “when.”

The problem, Nolan said, was that the radio announcer began with the boring details of where and when, so Nolan didn’t perk up and take notice of the story until after those details had already been revealed.

And I realized that this is my problem, too. I might catch a snippet of something, but rarely do I end up having taken in an entire news story when I hear it on the radio.

Nolan joked that radio announcers should begin all of their really interesting stories by saying something like, “PAY ATTENTION! GOOD STORY COMING UP!” Then readers would be in ready mode.

I actually love this idea, don’t you?

I mean, think about it. A radio doesn’t provide the kinds of cues to its readers that newspapers do — the kinds of cues that people like me need.

With newspapers, I can reread material to find what I missed the first time through. With radio, there are no redos — unless a story is repeated later, but, then, will I be listening closely enough the second time through?

A newspaper might contain a lot of stories that a reader finds boring, but that reader can skip over those items. With a radio, there is no skipping. You can’t fast-forward through the boring stuff as you can with commercials on a TV. If you choose to ignore the radio when the boring stories are being reported, you risk missing the interesting ones when they come up.

Furthermore, newspapers have visual cues to alert readers to highly compelling information — such as larger fonts for headlines or longer stories or the addition of photographs. Radio, obviously, has none of these things.

So, yes, a good addition to radio would be special pronouncements prefacing the really fascinating stories. My mother deserves some peace of mind.

Readers may contact Sybrant at or 45092 859th Road, Bassett, NE 68714.


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